Fans love seeing the nose-to-nose arguments in an MLB game, such as what is going on with MLB umpire Andy Fletcher in the photo.
But that’s actually not how umpires at the college and high school levels should act. MLB umpires have a unique situation of being the same umpires who deal with the same managers and players for more than six months every year. That creates a long history and different dynamic than umpires in lower levels.
With that in mind, here are some guidelines for handling a coach-umpire or umpire-player discussion.
• Keep distance (three feet or more) between you and the player or coach. If he wants to get closer than that, simply take a step back. It will make him look like the aggressor.
• Do not adopt a confrontational stance, such as putting your hands on your hips or folding them across the chest. The best thing to do is put them behind you (but not in your back pockets)
• When possible, stand at a right angle. That forces the tone away from the nose-to-nose type discussion into more of a conversation.
• Nod your head to non-verbally acknowledge what is being said.
• Let the coach/player finish speaking before you speak. Use the time when he is starting to repeat himself or vent as your time to recall the rule or play in question and formulate your answer.
• Don’t use profanity. No supervisor or state office personnel can back you up when you swear. And without a doubt, the discussion will focus on your profanity and away from the play or ruling in question.
• Don’t try to get in the last word. It’s not a contest. Unless he delivers a personal remark that merits a warning or ejection, let him walk off. ∗